You may be fooling yourself. You quite probably are if you think that you have your cat’s ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece. Further, you might think that there is some DNA of your cat in those ashes. That may well not be the case. It should be said from the outset that pure ashes do not contain the DNA of your beloved, cremated cat. Only in bone fragments and teeth can DNA be detected. Are these present in the ashes?
If there are no bone fragments or teeth then your connection between yourself and the ashes are entirely emotional. There is no physical connection. The ashes represent your beloved departed cat in a symbolic way. It could be worse.
An important point to make is that there’s a big difference between what is described as “an individual cremation” and “a private cremation”. I am referring to the USA. The language used is very similar and therefore it is easy to fudge the difference. I think in the UK the word “individual” means the same as “private”. But having read a comment from a person who runs a pet crematorium in the USA, there is a difference in that country it seems to me between the words “private” and “individual” in this context. Also when the ashes are white, a private cremation is indicated while grey ashes indicates a communal cremation.
You may have heard your veterinarian or a crematory (“crematorium in the UK) employee using the phrase “individual cremation”. In the US (as I understand it) this does not mean that your cat will be placed in an oven by him/herself and then cremated. It means that a communal cremation takes place where pets are laid out in the oven with space between them; as opposed to a pile of bodies in the oven. I suppose, in theory, such a cremation does allow a cat owner to receive the identifiable ashes of their cat. But do you receive a scorched, metal ID tag with the ashes? The only certain way that you can receive your cat’s ashes is to request a private cremation and moreover it is much more sensible to attend at the crematorium and requested it yourself. There is nothing stopping that. Watch the whole process from start to end.
It is unwise to employ your veterinarian to deal with a so-called “private cremation” if you want certainties. This is because you don’t know what goes on between your veterinarian and the pet crematorium with whom they contract. There is money involved obviously. The veterinarian will probably take a commission and the pet crematorium will make as much money as they can which will encourage them to take shortcuts. Another reason why they will be encouraged to take shortcuts is because ashes are ashes. Nobody can tell the difference between one set of ashes and another and you can’t do a DNA test and won’t want to anyway. Therefore crematoriums know that they can get away with it. They know they can cut corners. They know they can commit fraud in fact. That may be a strong word but on occasions it will be an appropriate word.
The sort of prices that people pay to have their cat cremated are very low when you consider that it takes a number of hours to cremate a pet and therefore if every pet was cremated privately (with only one animal in the oven at one time) the costs would rise significantly and become untenable for most clients. The crematorium would probably become unviable as a business. I paid for a private cremation and it cost me about £150 in the UK and I attended the entire process.
I suspect that a lot of people are unwilling to pay that sort of money to ensure that they receive the absolutely identifiable ashes of their dearly beloved cat. But unless you know for sure that they are your cat’s ashes there is not much point in putting them in an urn and placing the urn on the mantelpiece in your home unless you are happy to have a symbol upon and towards which you can direct your emotions.